Image 01 Image 03

The Internet Reacts to Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College Verdict

The Internet Reacts to Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College Verdict

The best and worst reactions to the $11 million judgment against Oberlin College

Friday afternoon, a jury found in favor of Gibson’s Bakery, rendering a whopping $11 million judgment against Oberlin college. Professor Jacobson’s crack analysis of the verdict is here.

Legal Insurrection is the only national outlet who has followed the near month-long trial extensively. For our coverage of the trial, see here.

The Gibson Family Reacts

So do trial-watchers

So let it be written, so let it be done

Someone call the wambulance:

We’ll pass, but thanks

The Oberlin Alumni Association sent the following email:

Dear Members of the Oberlin Community:

I am writing to update you on the lawsuit that Gibson Bros., Inc. filed against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas in November 2017.

Following a trial that spanned almost a full month, the jury found for the plaintiffs earlier today.

We are disappointed with the verdict and regret that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.

Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others. Rather, the College and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students’ freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.

As we have stated, colleges cannot be held liable for the independent actions of their students. Institutions of higher education are obligated to protect freedom of speech on their campuses and respect their students’ decision to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Oberlin College acted in accordance with these obligations.

While we are disappointed with the outcome, Oberlin College wishes to thank the members of the jury for their attention and dedication during this lengthy trial. They contributed a great deal of time and effort to this case, and we appreciate their commitment.

Our team will review the jury’s verdict and determine how to move forward.

Donica Thomas Varner
Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | June 7, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Dean Meredith Raimondo…….

Just sayin’……

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital. | June 7, 2019 at 7:24 pm


    RE: “….Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others….”


    12 JURORS STATED OTHERWISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Correction: eight jurors. Many civil trials use a reduced jury.

      The Alumni wrote of “clear evidence….”, To paraphrase the immortal words, “I do not think I those words mean what you think they mean.”
      Or somebody is a compulsive liar.


      Sadly, your comment is solid truth and means nothing to the children who call themselves alumni in the comment pages. Honestly, after reading some of the comments I was shocked at the attitudes displayed. How would they deal with college students coming into their store to rip them off? They remind me of children you see at the local grocery store, standing by the candy counter and stomping their feet demanding that Mom buy them some candy. They’ll do this for a half-hour after Mom first said NO.

      Nobody owes these creeps anything, but they’ve yet to learn this…and it’s going to be a bitter lesson when they do. Hope they enjoy the war.

        NavyMustang in reply to C. Lashown. | June 8, 2019 at 7:03 am

        My father owned a delicatessen in a town where there was a GM plant just down the street.

        He had all kinds of problems with the workers on their lunch breaks stealing 6 packs of beer from a display right at the exit of the deli.

        He put wire through the 6 packs of the display, but believe it or not it didn’t stop the thieves.

        So, he had me sit at the store exit making sure no one took anything. That worked.

        Now, 95% of the workers who came into the store were black. Was my father a racist for trying to protect his stock from theft? Did he take the steps he did cause they were black or because they were thieves? I say the latter. And it’s the same situation here. I bet Gibson’s had problems with punk students, of whatever race, coming in and 5 finger discounting products. The black thieves just took Gibson’s action to be racist…which they weren’t.

          Valerie in reply to NavyMustang. | June 8, 2019 at 11:02 am

          I knew a college student who would steal if he thought he had an opportunity. He was white. The difference between him and the Oberlin thieves is that, had he been caught, the whole college would have giggled.

      That Alumni Association statement should be submitted to the court in arguing that the penalties should be multiplied beyond the triple expected. Obviously, the lesson hasn’t yet been learned and this kind of messaging calls for remedial action itself.

      BTW, is this a landmark case that establishes new law and precedence for the future? Or was this just a one-off? If the Alumni Association’s statement is not addressed by the court, I’m afraid the left will simply launch yet another big lie to message this thing into oblivion. Another “Hands up don’t shoot!” campaign.

        Tom Servo in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 8, 2019 at 7:15 am

        The triple damages that many are hoping for are the maximum amount allowed by Ohio State Law. And we can’t say that there was any “new law” created here, and I wouldn’t want to – this is just the honest application of very Old Law.

        as far as the letter, of course it was stupid and offensive – but don’t make a mistake on the level of Raimondo, don’t forget that it will always be constitutionally protected free speech for anyone to say “But I wuz innocent!!!” even after losing a case. Stupidity does not equal illegality.

          The alumni association can say anything they want… if they are willing to accept the consequences. What I am arguing for are additional consequences to Oberlin for displaying brazen contempt to the court.

          I would expect at least slam-dunk evidence justifying the maximum monetary penalty. Maybe the judge could issue an additional statement at sentencing that Oberlin’s failure to rebuke their affiliated alumni association for writing a letter expressing open contempt for the court’s decision could in the future (with a dramatic pause and warning glare) be considered evidence of Oberlin’s continuing assault on the Gibsons and and an invitation for further prosecution should there be further anti-Gibson activity.

          Everyone should be making a very big stink about that letter and nailing it to the Obelin administration’s forehead every single day until they respond. THAT is where we need to wage the battle, not in the streets. Make them hurt.

          @Tom Servo: just for clarification, I have no issue with what you said. I am not a lawyer and my point is not about legal argument. It is about my frustration with how even when we “win” battles we lose the war for failing to follow through. In war, you have to put more boots on the ground to occupy territory after winning battles. We just go home.

          Professor Jacobsen just waged a one-man battle on this issue and put it on the national map. This victory is now on the board. We can really make them hurt every single day that Oberlin fails to address and REBUKE their alumni association not as a point of law, but as a primary change of strategy for winning wars. Nip this new cause in the bud but placing the responsibility on Oberlin to actively disassociate itself from any “movement” arising from this. Confront the lying at the source right now. Make it OUR cause.

        MajorWood in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 8, 2019 at 12:07 pm

        This was not a trial about shoplifting. It was a trial about trying to cover up the shoplifting. My former mentor at Hopkins was famous for saying “there is nothing more dangerous than misguided good intentions” whenever we were reviewing a case of a surgeon mangling a patient in the hopes of “fixing” something. Like an addict, Oberlin simply could not stop their compulsion to help someone who they felt “needed” their help. And as always, the unintended consequences of their actions were furthest from their minds. In a way I feel sorry for the original perpetrators, becaue they just wanted a bottle of wine, and now they are saddled with the guilt of a potential $33M judgement. That $500 fine isn’t so big now, is it? Oberlin needs to take a step back and have good hard look at the message that they are actually sending whenever they do something like this, not the message that their myopic outlook only allows them to see. Oberlin has a choice here. They can either view this as the worst day in the history of the college, or they can learn from a mistake, change course, and over time come to view it as the best day in the history of the college. I am not holding my breath.

          9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to MajorWood. | June 8, 2019 at 1:20 pm

          I agree that this case is not about shoplifting, but I disagree with the notion of guilty feelings and unintended consequences. The protests were an indication of the pervasive SJW ethos at liberal arts colleges nationwide. As Prof. Jacobson said in his earlier post (

          “Seventh, it didn’t have to get to this. The college could have made it right by standing up to the student activists who made false and defamatory accusations against the Gibsons. But standing up to student activists seems to be the hardest thing for college administrators to do at Oberlin College and many other campuses.

          Eighth, if the defendants win, or the verdict for the plaintiffs is small, the wrong lessons will be learned. It will reinforce the attitudes that led to false charges of racism and attempts to destroy the Gibsons’ business as if the Gibsons’ lives were toys to be played with as part of a campus-wide group therapy.

          Ninth, thank goodness there are lawyers who are willing to take these cases. I don’t know on what basis the plaintiffs’ lawyers were retained, but I assume it is a contingency fee. Unfortunately, some of the seedier contingency fee lawyers give everyone a bad name, but the contingency fee can be the great equalizer.

          Tenth, and last for now, this case is something of a metaphor for liberal arts higher education, and the disconnect from the lives of most Americans. Like the protest sign says, “This Runs Deeper.” The personal feelings of social justice warriors took precedence over the facts and the real lives of people in the community.”

      Oberlin will almost certainly appeal and likely has some left-wing court picked out to win a reversal. But Raimondo’s response to the verdict will likely be used to prove that she and Oberlin have zero self-awareness on this issue and their sense of righteousness blinds them from admitting any fault or wrong-doing – they just don’t get it…..which is what the jury told them but telling them doesn’t change their myopic view. Hey, does Gibson’s make pies/ We should send a pie from Gibson’s to Raimondo to help her heal, not cherry or apple – I was thinking of humble.

DouglasJBender | June 7, 2019 at 7:32 pm

The owners of Gibson’s Bakery are all white. How could they not be racist?

healthguyfsu | June 7, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Please collect all of the delicious meltdowns.

snz1 is telling Oberlin to “get fucked,” not Legal Insurrection (his response to Nate Silver wanting to make Puerto Rico and DC states is to instead “crush the urbanites and deport all foreigners”).

Oberling is Trending on Twitter

I wonder how Oberlin College would like it if the tables were turned and THEY were accused of racism (with no evidence to back the accusations) to the point where they were put out business? Turn about’s fair play, isn’t it?

Har har har

The jury must have believed that the actions of the students were not, in fact, independent of the college. I’m not sure what grounds their counsel will have for appeal.

    Tom Servo in reply to randian. | June 8, 2019 at 1:18 am

    Oberlin’s counsel presented almost no contrary evidence at trial, it was amazing how poorly prepared the defense seemed. The point is – if it’s not presented at the original trial, it won’t be considered in an appeal. Losing defendants don’t get a “do-over” just because they did a very bad job at trial.

      artichoke in reply to Tom Servo. | June 8, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      I don’t agree with this assumption that Oberlin’s lawyers did a bad job. The over-aggressive decision to go through discovery and to trial may not have been theirs. And the lack of evidence may have been because exculpatory evidence wasn’t available.

      If Oberlin’s lawyers did an incompetent job, let Oberlin sue them later. That isn’t an issue in this trial.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to randian. | June 8, 2019 at 6:36 am

    I’d like to see a list of the students and teachers that took part in the demonstrations, articles written, signs made, etc. Next to each name, their major course of study, or what courses they teach.

theduchessofkitty | June 8, 2019 at 12:34 am

GFY Oberlin SJWs!

Get Woke, GO BROKE! And let this be a warning to all other SJWs and their enablers across the country.

From her bio online:
“Meredith Raimondo is Oberlin’s latest vice president and dean of students after filling the position on an interim basis since July 2016.

As dean of students, Raimondo will lead Oberlin’s Division of Student Life that supports students by creating more seamless connections between curricular and cocurricular experiences, advising and mentoring focused on the development of life skills and interpersonal and personal growth, and building and bridging intellectual and personal communities. She previously served as special assistant to the president for equity, inclusion, and diversity and Title IX coordinator.”

Like all fiercely committed leftists placed into a position of power, Dean Meredith Raimondo never stopped to think that what she was encouraging her students to do was wrong and could be a liability to her employer. She chose poorly and now she likely won’t get a campus building named after her!

    C. Lashown in reply to Ghostrider. | June 8, 2019 at 4:16 am

    With that thin-lipped vacant smile she has, it’s doubtful she would be given the key’s to open the local Burger King in the morning. Who knows, maybe McDonald’s while hire her instead.

    herm2416 in reply to Ghostrider. | June 8, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Raimondo has done a fine job on “the development of life skills”, hasn’t she.
    Good grief. What pablum.

someone’s defaming the Gibsons still

Wish I could put some salt on Oberlin’s wounds. Ah well, I’ll wait for the court to do that next week when they award punitive damages against the heathen of academia.

Let them squeal like the pigs they are.

DieJustAsHappy | June 8, 2019 at 7:37 am

Without the internet and today’s arrogant media, this matter would have remained mostly a local one. All the outside attention quickly caused the situation to escalate and reach a point of no return. I really don’t like what our society has become with ever-present possibility of questionable intrusiveness into our lives via technology.

After all, must everything become, as it used to be said, a federal case?

    artichoke in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | June 8, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Your attempted deflection is factually misleading. LI was alone, as far as I know, in covering this trial. Media, major and minor (appropriate for a school with a music conservatory I guess) have rigorously avoided coverage, because the usual safeguards had failed and an institution they liked (Oberlin) was at risk from the rabble.

I wonder if the college will ever agree to pay $11,000,000 for a cheap bottle of wine again.

I really am amazed that the Staff and the students support thieves!

Trying to Boycott, Sanction, and Divest from Gibson’s Bakery because it was “racist” didn’t work out very well. I think there is a larger lesson there.

I’m just glad that the term “racism” didn’t expand to include calling the police on shoplifters when they are black. Or, actually it did, but it is now considered defamatory.

A speed bump on the march through the institutions (Oberlin used to be a pretty good place), or a turning point?

I think it’s more than a speed bump, we’ll see how much more.

Richard Aubrey | June 8, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Ninth District:
I disagree. Oberlin wasn’t trying to “help” the original miscreants. The thieves were the proximate cause of righteous, feel-good fight against the racist establishment. By the time the protests cranked up, the perps were into the criminal justice system too far for Oberlin’s actions to be any help.

Richard Aubrey | June 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Did I mention…Inside Higher Ed missed this.

    MajorWood in reply to Richard Aubrey. | June 8, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Perhaps Oberlin is no longer considered “Inside Higher Ed.” Have they shown any evidence of deserving to be there recently?

    The MSM may choose to ignore this, but that doesn’t mean that we are ignoring the MSM ignoring this. They will come out of the woodwork in droves once they sort out that Fox gets to set the narrative in stone via their absence.

    artichoke in reply to Richard Aubrey. | June 9, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    I think they posted about the case a while ago. But when I tried to mention the case in a more recent thread, my comment didn’t pass the censor.

If Oberlin doesn’t fire Raimondo for being a hateful, destructive race-baiter who manipulated students to be as hateful as she is, then Obelin will get exactly what they deserve….again…

Richard Aubrey | June 9, 2019 at 10:36 pm

If you read IHE, you’d find that Oberlin has all the characteristics they favor. Even when they don’t mention it, you’ll find what they, including such comments as pass the censor, favor and it’s Oberlinish to the enth degree.